When the new year rolls around, I always think of fresh starts. And right up there with my purchases that celebrate that “out with the old, in with the new” mantra are, you guessed it, shoes. (After all, do we really need an excuse to buy a new pair?) This year, however, I’m looking at some newer additions to my closet (and my kids’ wardrobe) that do more than keep our tootsies toasty. Adding a little “oomph” to my tried-and-true, but tired moccasins collection is this silver glitter pair from TOMS. Not only are they festive and comfortable, but buying them will put some warmth in your heart: for every pair purchased, the company donates shoes to a child in need (yes, they also offer stylish shoes for men and children). Speaking of the kiddies, we’re also looking toward spring when we can finally put away those winter boots and break out a fresh pair of walking shoes. (Is it just me or are you also tired of seeing your kids in sneakers all the time?) I love the look, feel and buttery smell of leather mocs from Venettini. Their kids’ shoes come in lovely pastel shades that beg of warm, sunny days ahead, but we can also appreciate the universal appeal of neutral shades like these grey crocodile patent leather ones.
In a Nutshell: Nothing says new year like a brand spanking new pair of shoes. Celebrate 2011 in style and give something back with these smart purchases.
If I had a dime for every crushed Cheerio I’ve managed to rescue from our family room floor, I’d be well on my way to paying my kids’ college tuition. OK, well maybe just one of their textbooks, but seriously, I’m amazed at how far those crunchy finger foods can travel. They manage to make their way around our home: out of the kitchen, up a flight of stairs and into our carpeting. The same goes for the Goldfish that have found a new home in our car’s backseat. Wouldn’t it be great if food didn’t end up flying and instead stayed exactly where it was meant to be (if it can’t make it into my daughter’s tummy, then at least her bowl)? The mom and dad team who came up with the Gyro Bowl surely had this dilemma in mind. This gravity-defying bowl seeks to keep kids’ finger food intact, which translates into less crushed Cheerios for Mom. Its inventive design features a bowl nestled inside a ring, resting inside another ring. Handles on the outside make it a cinch for your mobile little monster to take her breakfast to go. The Gyro Bowl looks more like a celestial body than a breakfast bowl, but hey, if it means fewer spills, we’re game to try it out. We put the Gyro Bowl to test and were amazed at how well it worked. My 2-1/2-year old loved watching the bowl spin around as she happily toted it around our family room. While it’s not completely fool-proof (a few stray Cheerios hit the ground), it does an impressive job at keeping more of her food in one place. That’s more than I can say for her toys and our family room…
In a Nutshell: We’re over the moon for a breakfast bowl that’s toddler-proof if it means fewer crumbs and cleaner carpeting.
Already thinking of New Year’s Eve? You’re not alone. But if you’re like the rest of us who haven’t yet finished our Christmas shopping, consider a gift for the little girl in your life: one she surely treasure for years to come. This December 31, treat your resident Eloise fan to the Black, White and Pink festivities at New York’s one and only Plaza Hotel. On the agenda: a three-course, prix-fix dinner at The Palm Court restaurant (prices are $120/adult and $85 for kids ages 12 and under); games, arts and crafts and other Eloise-themed activities; and a special screening of “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” in the Terrace Room. Be sure to stop by the Palm Court for a spot of Eloise Tea, a must for any pink lady.
In a Nutshell: Not sure what to do this New Year’s Eve with the kids? Here’s a fun way to ring in 2011: think pink!
If you’re headed to the airport with a little one in tow, the numbers 3-1-1 have more meaning than the winning numbers on a Lotto ticket. No need to frantically search high and low for bottles and containers that comply with the latest travel requirements. (Yes, we know you’ve already been up all night trying to cram enough formula and finger foods into your diaper bag to last until New Year’s). That’s why you’ll really appreciate The First Years American Read Cross True Travel Kit. It’s the one item on your must-pack checklist that makes airport transport a little less taxing on your already-frayed nerves. The see-through bag has all the essentials to get through your cross-country flight. Plus, you’ll win points with the TSA agents because its transparency makes their jobs a whole lot easier. The kit comes with two 3 oz. bottles for liquids, a toothbrush, comb, medicine dropper, five emery boards and a nail clipper. (After all, you never know when an emergency manicure might be in order.) Besides, you’ve got more important things to deal with…like those body scans. Happy trails to you!
In a Nutshell: The 411 on the 3-1-1? This baby essentials travel kit will make your security check-in a breeze. And who knows? Maybe the TSA agent will even crack a smile.
Back before I wrote for a living, I took a summer job at my hometown’s city hall (does that make it my “homecity?”). Anyway, I remember well a very hot day when a rather stylish young mother was nursing her baby in the place where city officials gathered for public meetings. I was admittedly a bit taken aback, being a fresh college grad and wondering why this woman didn’t seem to care if everyday people coming to pay their taxes could just stare at her. It certainly didn’t help matters that her child was fussing and drawing even more attention to them. I distinctly remember the look on her face that wasn’t just flushed because the A/C wasn’t working properly. I can’t help thinking how she would have really appreciated a Pirose nursing scarf. What I like about this product is the fact that it’s a departure from the breastfeeding shields on the market that are more like bulky blankets that hardly serve the purpose of being discreet. (While the 18-year-old me has since learned there is certainly nothing wrong with feeding your child on demand, even I know that moms with babes in tow don’t necessarily need to feel eyes boring into the backs of their heads; save that for the playground.) Pirose’s designer has done a beautiful job creating a scarf that is not only fashionable, but functional. When you’re not using it for private nursing, you can tie it around your diaper bag or drape it across your stroller for instant shade. I’m betting that had that young mom had a Pirose of her own, she would have been smiling from ear to ear.
In a Nutshell: Breastfeeding in public takes on a whole new level of comfort. We’ll take a product that multitasks like we do any day.
When your toddler’s drinking cup has more eye appeal than your stemless wine glass, you know you’ve officially become a hip mom. For years, my eyes have glazed over at the endless sea of character sippy cups that have graced our dinner table. From playful creatures to frolicking animals (why does that cat look so happy, anyway?), whatever could get my daughter to drink her milk worked for me. But when it was time to ditch the handled version for a plan cup, all bets were off. (Are you feeling my pain?) Well, if you’ve got a toddler who doesn’t relish change, you know you may have a battle on your hands. But what could be more enticing than a big kid cup that looks more like a funky bangle you might sport at a pool party than a receptacle for apple juice? Fluid is one cup that definitely distinguishes itself from the rest of the glassware in your cupboard. Its donut-style shape makes it so easy to grasp, your kid will never miss those handles. As for the dancing bear on her dinner plate, the jury is still out.
In a Nutshell: For toddler drinking, the choice is clear. Fluid from Boon is the way to go.
If I make it through Christmas without tripping over a toy, I’ll be amazed. Call it the curse of generous gift-givers or from years of writing about kids’ product for my various magazine jobs…no matter how you slice it, my kids have been blessed with more playthings than Santa’s Workshop could hold. Do you find that your house is the same–that you too are surrounded by Legos, Calico Critters and tiny pepperoni pieces from a play pizza kit? If you’re noticing how messy your family room has become, while also realizing just how long your child plays with a toy before she loses interest, forget about banishing Barbie to the basement. Giving new meaning to the idea of “re-gifting,” thredUP.com is expanding its kids’ clothing swap site to include toys for the impending holiday season. The process is so simple, it’s almost criminal not to take advantage of it. Once you sign up and become a member, you list and itemize a box of gently used toys your kids no longer play with. When another member chooses your listing, you’ll be notified by thredup, which also takes care of creating a shipping label and scheduling an at-home pick-up. Kids feeling a sudden lose over their dearly departed dollhouse? Take a deep breath, sigh audibly and then let them browse virtual “toy boxes” to see if there’s anything that catches your (or their) eye. When you find a toy box you like, select it and pay just $5. That’s it. Hey, in the spirit of the season, it’s nice to show a little goodwill, even to your own little devils.
In a Nutshell: Help lighten Santa’s load and maybe clean up your family room in the process. And saving a dollar or two this season by re-using doesn’t hurt either.
Sometimes, I feel like I understand what it must be like to be an octopus. Between holding my 2-year-old’s hand while managing grocery bags and my own purse, I can still amazingly get my key in the front door. While I may not have as many appendages to master all the feats of the day, a multitasking bag can sure do the trick. The new line of timi & leslie 2-in-1 backpacks are true workhorses that work double time (kinda like us moms). You can either wear the bag as a backpack, or zip up the backpack straps and wear it as a messenger bag. This versatility helps convey that “Yeah, I’ve got my stuff together” look…even if it’s all a ruse. Would you believe these backpacks have 15 (count ‘em) pockets? So great to be able to designate my cellphone to its own spot. Maybe now I can actually get my hands on it when it rings. Then again, if I were an octopus, I wouldn’t have to worry about cellphones (sigh…). Timi & Leslie bags can be found on Amazon.
In a Nutshell: You deserve a bag that works as hard as you do. Here’s one that looks as good as you, too.
Ah, the glory of the cold weather….the snow, the ice, the dry air that makes my skin crack and bleed. Once the heat turns on in my house, my hands turn into claws that are so dry, it looks like my cat and I had a fight, and she won. But seriously, eczema and dermatitis are no laughing matter and sadly, my young daughters seem to be ripe candidates for inheriting my sensitive Irish skin. For those families battling dry skin,exederm has a brand new line of baby skincare that can’t be beat. From baby lotion and moisturizer, to shampoo and bath soap, this collection contains no fragrance, no color or dyes, no lanolin and no parabens (if you know your skincare lingo, that means no bad stuff for extra-sensitive skin.) I was so impressed by the line, I sampled some for myself and let’s just say my hands may actually stand a chance of beating out Old Man Winter this year. See for yourself and check out the line, which is now available on Amazon.com and Drugstore.com.
In a Nutshell: Move over, cocoa butter. There’s a new skincare line on the block, ready to slather on a baby near you.